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Days Out & Travel

A Fun Family UK Road Trip With Days Inn - Maidstone, Winchester, Southampton and Westerham


If you follow me over on Instagram then you will probably have seen that last week we spent a few days taking a family road trip around a few destinations in the UK. We stopped over at Maidstone, Winchester, Southampton and Westerham and found something fun and different to do at each location.

We took a European road trip with the kids last year visiting France, Belgium and The Netherlands and we were surprised at how much it suited us a family, moving from place to place and constantly exploring new places was something we all loved and so when Days Inn asked us if we wanted to do a road trip here in the UK we knew we would really enjoy ourselves. Here's how we got on..


Stop 1: Maidstone

Our first stop was Maidstone, about a two and a half hour drive from us. The rain was pouring down, but we didn't let that stop us, we pulled out our umbrellas, put our rain jackets on and headed over to take a boat trip to Allington Lock.


maidstone boat trips, maidstone with kids

Ethan and Logan were really excited about being on a boat, they really loved looking out of the big windows spotting different things that we went past. We spotted lots of things like ducks, other boats and even a couple of swans, which was lovely.

maidstone boat trips, maidstone with kids
maidstone boat trips, maidstone with kids
maidstone boat trips, maidstone with kids

The boat took us over to Allington Lock (pictured below) which is also where we could have got off to go to Kent Life Farm which I've heard really good things about, but because the down pour of rain was so heavy we decided that we were happy to stay on the boat and enjoy the trip back.

allington lock,

After our fun boat trip we decided to head over to Lockmeadow Entertainment Centre, which was next to where we had parked our car. We'd popped in before our boat ride and actually unexpectedly met Peppa Pig who was there having her photograph taken with children. We found a really lovely pub with friendly staff called the The Feathers Flaming Grill to have some dinner at before heading over to hotel at the Days Inn Maidstone.


days inn maidstone

We'd not stayed at a Days Inn before so I wasn't sure what to expect but I was really happy to find that our family room was extremely spacious, clean and offered everything that we needed for a good nights rest. It was great to find that the two single beds for the boys were in a separate interconnecting room also.

One thing I hadn't realised is that most Days Inn hotels are actually at the motorway services, initially I wasn't sure if this was a good thing or not, I wondered if it might be noisy, but I was pleasantly surprised at how quiet it was. Once we were inside, we could have been anywhere, I didn't notice a sound. At check-in we were given breakfast vouchers to spend over at the service restaurants in the morning and this was perfect for us as it meant that we had a lot of choice between the different cafes.

days inn maidstone

Stop 2: Winchester
I'm just going to come out and say it, I absolutely loved Winchester and it was probably my favourite location of the trip. It's just such a quaint city with so much interesting history and the most beautiful buildings. I'm so glad we got to spend the day there. There's a lot to do and see in Winchester, places like Marwell Zoo and the New Forest National Park, but for us as huge history fans we wanted to trace the footsteps of King Alfred and explore Winchester's historic landmarks.

We picked ourselves up a city walk trail at the Guildhall Tourist Information Centre in the middle of Winchester town. The walk is divided into three loops so you can choose how much to do, we set out on the shortest one so that the boys legs didn't tire too quickly, but in fact we ended up just referring to our guide for information on certain points of interest as we had so much fun just wandering and finding our own way about. 

winchester, winchester with kids

The first place that we stumbled upon was Abbey Gardens and it was the perfect place to spend some time, especially with little people. It's a real tranquil park and there are lots of benches to sit on amid flower beds, grassy areas & a really lovely stream. There's also a fantastic play park for the kids which my boys loved so much that they ended up having two visits to it. Right by the stream, there's also a really nice place called River Cottage to stop and grab a drink or if you're hungry get some lunch/dinner or a bite to eat. It was such a lovely place that we couldn't decide whether to sit inside where it was cosy and modern or to sit outside where sitting so close to the stream felt calming and relaxing. In the end, we decided on outside and we just sat for a while having a drink and a chill.

abbey gardens winchester, winchester with kids
abbey gardens winchester, winchester with kids
abbey gardens winchester, winchester with kids
abbey gardens winchester, winchester with kids

Next, we took a short walk over to Winchester Cathedral, which in a word is stunning - both inside and out. I'm not a religious person, but the beauty of the cathedral is undeniable. It literally took our breaths away. It is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe and as an avid Tudor history fan, it was amazing to learn that Mary Tudor married her Husband there. It was also fascinating to learn that Jane Austen, one of England’s greatest novelists, is buried at Winchester Cathedral and that she has not one, not two, but three memorials in the cathedral. 
 Winchester cathedral, winchester, winchester with kids
Winchester cathedral, winchester, Winchester cathedral, winchester,
Winchester cathedral, winchester,
Winchester cathedral, winchester,
 Winchester cathedral, winchester,

Winchester cathedral, winchester,

painted rocks, love on the rocks

Ethan was also so excited to find a painted rock that somebody had decorated and then hidden for somebody to find just by Winchester Cathedral. He was absolutely chuffed about it all day and spent the rest of the day hunting for more.

Wolvesey Castle

After the cathedral, we headed over to have a look at the ruins of Wolvesey Castle. Wolvesey, standing a stone's throw from Winchester Cathedral was home to the medieval Bishops of Winchester and the ruins first date back to the 12th-century palace of Bishop Henry of Blois, the brother of King Stephen. There is something about standing in a place that old and imagining times that have passed and people who were once there that is incredibly fascinating. I try to imagine how they might have lived and how things were so different from how they are now.

Wolvesey Castle
Wolvesey Castle
Wolvesey Castle

After what was a fascinating day exploring Winchesters historical places, we headed over to Pizza Express for dinner where we sat next to a window with riverside views which was so nice. Afterwards, we made our way to Days Inn Winchester and Logan fell asleep on the way which was nice as it meant we could put him to bed as soon we got in to our room. Again, our room was lovely - we felt so relaxed. After Ethan fell asleep Adam and I watched a movie which was a really nice way to end the day. In the morning we had breakfast boxes waiting for us outside our door with things like cereal, muffins, nuts and milk in. I think it just depends on which Days Inn hotel you stay at as to how you get breakfast.

days inn winchester
days inn winchester

Stop 3: Southampton / Portsmouth 

The next day we were staying at Days Inn Southampton and we decided that because it was raining so much we wanted to find somewhere inside to spend the day. We realised that Portsmouth was only a short distance from Southampton and so we thought we would go to the Portsmouth historic dockyard and visit The Mary Rose which was a Tudor warship that King Henry VIII owned back in 1510. Sadly, it sank in 1545 and most of the crew on board were killed. The Mary Rose then laid undisturbed for hundreds of years until the wreck of the hull was raised in 1982 and it now sits on display in a purpose-built museum in the historic dockyards alongside lots of fascinating Tudor artificats. The lighting inside the museum isn't the best for taking photographs, but I highly recommend a visit especially if Tudor history interests you.

We took the park and ride which the boys loved. They got to sit at the front of the bus at the top and they found the ride so exciting. There are lots of other fascinating things to see at the dockyard too. We managed to get a glimpse at the brand new warship HMS Queen Elizabeth which looks incredible. And you can also explore the HMS Victory built in 1759 and the Royal Navy's most famous warship - best known for its role in the Battle of Trafalgar.

park and ride portsmouth
portsmouth historic dockyard
hms victory
hms queen elizabeth, warship 2018
the mary rose, tudor warship,  henry viii
the mary rose, tudor warship,
the mary rose, tudor warship, the mary rose dog,
the mary rose, tudor warship,
the mary rose, tudor warship,
the mary rose, tudor warship,
the mary rose, tudor warship,

After a super interesting day exploring the historic dockyard at Portsmouth we checked in to Days Inn Southampton for the night and as with our other stays everything was perfect for us. The boys slept so well (which mean that we did) and breakfast was at the service restaurants again. We had water waiting for us and even some little treats for the boys which was so lovely. 

days inn southampton
days inn southampton
days inn southampton

Stop 4: Westerham 

Our last day was spent at Westerham and so we decided to head over to nearby Knole Park as we are National Trust members. The impressive building at Knole is absolutely stunning, but we hadn't realised that it was closed the day we were there, so we couldn't take a look around the rooms. We did, however, spend lots of time exploring the grounds and spotting the wild deer that live there. They're such beautiful animals and these deer were so incredibly tame too. It was an amazing experience for us all.

Adam and Ethan went up the Gatehouse Tower which was open and said that the views from the top were amazing. I'm not a fan of heights myself so Logan and I found a room that was offering children's activities for free. We sat and put together a child's sized model of Knole, Logan loved matching the numbers up and seeing it all come together. Afterwards, we sat outside for a while whilst the boys had fun playing with some fallen tree branches they'd found. They are happiest when outside so they were happy doing for a little while whilst Adam and I sat and chilled out under a tree watching them.

knole park deer, knole park
knole park deer, knole park
knole park deer, knole park
knole park deer, knole park
knole park deer, knole park
knole park deer, knole park

After Knole Park it was time to head over to Days Inn Westerham where we found we had interconnecting rooms again and so much space! As with the entire trip, we had a great nights stay.

We found all of our rooms with Days Inn very spacious and super clean. And the staff we encountered during our stays were all friendly and happy to help us with any enquiries. Before this trip we'd never stayed at any motorway services before, but we found that it in doing so it was actually a perfect base for us to get from place to place. We'd definitely stay with Days Inn again for a road trip like this or as somewhere to get some rest whilst travelling to/from somewhere or before a holiday.

days inn westerham
days inn westerham

This was such a nice trip - we really enjoyed ourselves. I think it's easy to assume that road trips with young children could potentially be a bit challenging due to the long travelling but we've found that our boys seem to do so well with these sorts of trips and actually really seem to enjoy doing so much exploring. We'd like to say a huge thank you to Days Inn for working with us on this. You can find out more about Days Inn by Wyndham at wyndhamhotels.com.

Thank you for reading. 
  Alex xo 

12 comments

  1. What an absolutely amazing sounding time you had! I love that you got to explore so many different places in the UK. I would have loved to have done something similar, there is so many amazing places in the UK to go and see and visit.

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  2. Love a good road trip! Winchester Cathedral just looks so stnning and beautiful x

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  3. I absolutely love Winchester so I'm so happy that you loved it too, it sounds like a great road trip x

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  4. That sounds like quite some roadtrip, we live not far from Winchester but I have never visited

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  5. What a fab road trip and Winchester is our manor, my mummy worked in winchester for years and we live just outside. Marwell is fantastic and we love it!

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  6. What a fun way to see so much of the country. Holly was randomly born in Winchester and we would love to go and explore it more. And seeing all the naval places in Portsmouth brought back memories as my uncle was in the Navy in Portsmouth and we used to go and visit. I've never actually heard of Days Inn Hotels, but the rooms look ideal for families. I will look out for them x

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  7. It sounds like you all had a fantastic day trip and got to see amazing places. We’ve never stayed at Days Inn before but seems great, we would love to.

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  8. What a great trip you guys have had, I havent been to nay of these locations so it was lovely seeing what we could do. Great snaps as well x

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  9. Wow. UK is on my top bucket list and I would love to visit it soon. How I wish I have time and extra money to do so.

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  10. oh i need to add this to my wishlist i love takin my lot places like these x

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  11. Oh my, your photos are absolutely beautiful! I really love Winchester, it's so beautiful there and we visit Southampton and Porstmouth quite often as they're so close to us.

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  12. your boys are troopers we are currently confined to night driving. sebastian is fine but Humphrey is 14 months and screams the whole time

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